I’m not getting personal, I’m talking about your organisation and specifically PPM Maturity. 56% of PPM Practitioners are somewhat or very dissatisfied with the PPM maturity within their organisation and this number has been rising for the last few years; 45% in 2016 & 50% in 2017 according to The State of Project Management, 2018.

Call me an optimist, but my view is that this number has been increasing because Practitioners have a greater awareness of what ‘good’ project management look like. They look outside their own organisation and see what can be achieved and look back with some disappointment. Maybe LinkedIn posts are fuelling this sinking feeling just in the same way everyone else looks like they are having a great time and always on holiday in other social media, it’s not just me working, right?

So let’s assume we are more aware of ‘good’, then let’s look to make a difference. It’s the right time of year to reflect, recharge and renew in 2019. So what notes should you leave on your desk to come back to next year? How can you improve your PPM maturity?

Unfortunately, this isn’t a solo challenge, it’s a team game. So your notes for PPM maturity improvement need to be shared. Here are some of my favourite questions:

  • How many projects have you got?
  • What is a project (versus a task)?
  • What is your approach to selecting projects?
  • What is your approach to planning projects?

If you can’t answer all these, then we have our start point. Is there a consistent approach to selecting, planning, running and closing projects in your organisation? A consistent approach that accounts for projects of differing scales, complexity, value and risk? Is that approach written down in a lovely document titled ‘PPM Methodology’ that people actually follow?

By now you are either nodding your head happily or recognising some cracks in your PPM reality. Your homework might include sitting down with colleagues and creating answers to these basic questions.

Let’s look at the ‘selecting’ stage. Many of our clients struggle with project selection, with most admitting they are doing too many projects. In the future, “Let’s do five projects well, rather than ten badly”. We therefore need to select the five based on a selection criteria fit for your organisation. Which project gives us the best Return on Investment? We might look at Net Present Value (NPV) and Payback period if we are more advanced, or we might just look at alignment with corporate strategy and score each project across a set of defined criteria.

One simple model that often gets people thinking is to plot proposed projects for their attractiveness versus achievability. Let’s focus on those projects that are attractive AND we can actually do! Those that fall in the magic top right hand quadrant should be selected over those that might look even more attractive but are not likely to succeed.

In The State of Project Management Report, 2018 ‘attempting to do too many projects’ was the second largest challenge. It’s a very common compliant.

Top Five Challenges:

  • Poorly trained Project Managers
  • Attempting to run too many projects
  • Insufficient project funding
  • Inconsistency in approach
  • Doing the wrong projects

So as 2018 draws to a close take time to consider how your organisation can improve project management maturity. Ask colleagues to consider the standard 5 level maturity chart below. Where are you? Not you individually, but your department, business unit or organisation.

As a minimum you should aim for level 3; a defined consistent approach to running projects of all sizes. You need to be honest about this too. Just because you managed it with a couple of projects it doesn’t mean you get to give yourself a “3”. Its ALL projects.

In summary, can you answer the four questions I posed earlier? Are you happy with your current PPM maturity? What steps are you going to take in the New Year to make a step change? It’s never too late to be more mature.